When the CCSD21 Community Service Center and Administrative Office officially opened to the public at the beginning of the year, a question that remained was what would occupy the empty office space on the north side of the first floor – initially designated as a health clinic.
During its monthly meeting on April 27, the board of education received that answer, voting unanimously to have the District proceed with finalizing contract terms and the design for the District’s school-based health center with Advocate Aurora Health as its provider of services in this space.
“We felt that Advocate was the best match for what we’re looking for,” said Dr. Michael Connolly, superintendent of CCSD21, adding that Advocate currently operates the school-based health centers in Maine Township District 207, Northfield Township High School District 225, and Evanston Township High School.
Micheal DeBartolo, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, added that the process will move a little quicker since the contract has already been established by way of Dist. 225; the only change will be the differences for Pre-K to eighth grade. He also noted that this is believed to be one of the first Pre-K to eighth grade school-based health clinics in the state of Illinois.
Additionally, the process for design is set to move quickly, as Arcon Associates, the District’s architect, and its construction manager, Nicholas and Associates, were responsible for the construction of Dist. 225’s school-based health clinic.
The physical space is also already constructed, with electricity, lighting, water lines and all other necessary utility and technical components “roughed in” at the moment, including a private network for Advocate Aurora’s privacy and billing software, according to DeBartolo. The District has already begun the next steps of construction by meeting with Advocate Aurora to determine what the needs are for exam rooms, lab spaces, charting areas, consultation rooms and other spaces. What the designs for these areas along with flooring, walls and other components of the clinic would look like are next on the agenda.
“We anticipate it to be pretty quick,” he adds, noting that the District took the design of the Dist. 225 clinic and overlaid it to see what kind of space CCSD21 would have left if its school-based health clinic was designed the same way. “We know that we have ample space to build out this space for the students, staff and community with ample room to enhance the latest design built in District 225.”
Board members lauded the move, with Arlen Gould calling it a “legendary achievement.”
“It will change the complexity of Wheeling and our community [for the] better,” Gould said. “It will provide great services to our kids and our teachers, and the community at some point.”
While there is no official timeline, District officials are hopeful to make preparations and be in operation during the course of the 2023-2024 school year. Connolly noted that it will take time to ramp up operations to include staff, families and eventually the community, as there is a process to build capacity in terms of staffing.
However, as Advocate Aurora has a number of mobile facilities. DeBartolo assured board members that during the summer months, the District and Advocate will partner to deploy those resources that would be available for physicals, dental work and other assorted health services so as to help meet the needs of the District families while the clinic is being constructed.